The Wars of Religion

Two major religious wars in the 16th and 17th centuries were the French Wars of Religion and the Thirty Years' War with the Catholics fighting against the Protestants. They were both thought on the grounds of politics and religion and they changed the course of European history. No longer would the Holy Roman Empire exist as a competition to the French, but it would fall apart. The wars started with France and Germany in a state of decomposition, but France would emerge powerful unlike Germany which became destroyed after the Thirty Years War.
The French Wars of Religion were fought because ofreligious controversy and for political power. With the death of Henry II the country had no firm ruler as he left three sons, various groups would fight in order to influence the sons. The civil wars were fought in an absence of government, with the Catholics fighting the Huguenots. The fighting escalated after Catherine de Medici (Henry II's wife) killed a number of Huguenots on St. Bartholomew's Day and angered the Huguenots even more. After years of fighting a group called the Politiques emerged, they believed that religion differences do not justify this war, and Henry IV emerged as King and a Politique. To end the war he became a Catholic and also issued the Edict of Nantes, which gave Catholics and Huguenots equal civil rights. This allowed France to become unified.
The Thirty Years' War occurred because there was a religious struggle between many Protestants and Catholics and because there was power struggle between the princes (mainly Protestant) in the Holy Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Emperor (Catholic). The Emperor wanted a central unified power but the princes wanted to be independent. It began with the Defenstration of Prague, where protestant Czech nobles threw some Catholic Habsburg governors out of a window. The Danes,the Swedes, and the French participated in the war, all of them favoring the Prot…


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